Juggling schoolwork, activism, and a social life these young women are acing homework assignments and fighting Congress for their respective causes.
From Greta Thunberg single-handedly fighting climate change to high school students organizing protests against school shootings, it’s clear that the youth of today don’t plan to sit on the sidelines. Kids of today are prepared to take up arms for a cause they’re passionate about while simultaneously studying their tails off trying to ace their English final exam. Here are four female activists fighting a battle many would say they are too young to understand. But they are here to remind those who doubt them that, age is nothing but a number when compared to the sheer willpower of a young woman.
“Climate change doesn’t only affect our environment. It affects our physical and mental wellbeing.” Milou Albrecht
The daughter of a psychologists who specializes in adaption and disaster recovery, Milou Albrecht was destined for a future in climate change. Albrecht was raised in an eco-friendly, rural community where the family often attended climate protests.
At the tender age of 15, Albrecht co-founded School Strike for Climate Australia, which assembles student walkouts. Since the rise of bush fires in her country, Albrecht and her organization have been applying pressure to Siemens, a German engineering corporation, that was contracted for an operation on an open-cast mine in Queensland, Australia. Siemens was hired by Adani Enterprises for the project. Since its inception, both Siemens and Adani have been under fire at least four times for their disregard for Australia’s environmental protection rules.
The Queensland mine typically extracts 10 million tons of coal every year, at the same time the coal industry has been under severe scrutiny in recent years for the high levels of greenhouse gas emissions produced by coal. Albrecht and School Strike for Climate Australia are hoping to persuade Siemens to remove their coal mining project from Australia, they are demanding their country to become a Net Zero continent by 2030, meaning Australia would no longer be host to coal, oil or gas projects including Adani Mine.
Shamma bint Suhail Faris Mazrui
“In the UAE, Arab youth are similar to youth around the world. They all want to go to the best universities. They all want to have stable careers. They want lives of purpose and they want to feel part of a cohesive community and family.” Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui
After receiving a bachelor’s degree from New York University Abu Dhabi, she became the United Arab Emirates’ very first Rhodes Scholar. Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui went on to earn her Master’s degree in public policy from the University of Oxford. Al Mazrui has also been appointed Minister of State for Youth Affairs when she was merely 22 years old, making her the youngest government minister in the world when she was elected. Her academic career scored her a spot on the 2018 Forbes Middle East Arab 30 under 30 list.
As the UAE Minister of State for Youth, Mazruo focuses on representing youth issues at the cabinet and provides strategies for improving youth capabilities. She is also fluent in Arabic, English, French and Chinese.
Catalina Santelices Brunel
“The only way to make solutions that really have a positive impact in their lives is by considering their ideas and worries around the topic, and include them in every possible space.” Catalina Santelices Brunel
Growing up in Chile, Brunel could see that the global south was widely left out of the climate crisis conversation. In an effort to open up that discussion to a more diverse audience and provide a voice for Afro-descendant and Indigenous women she co-founded Latinas for Climate.
“There are a lot of young girls who are victims of FGM every year. It’s an atrocious practice that girls my age suffer greatly and are marked for the rest of their lives. Let’s fight together to end FGM. It is a cause that I will defend throughout my life.” Latifatou Compaoré
Compaoré was born with the spirit of resistance, a quality which continued to be instilled in her as she grew up. After undergoing Female Genital Mutilation, and witnessing another girl dying from the procedure, Compaoré’s mother vowed to never compromise her daughter’s safety and wellbeing. When Compaoré was old enough, her mother told her about experience with FGM, afterwards, the young woman took up activism and is now committed to ending the practice of FGM. Compaoré was celebrated along with another activist at UNFPA in 2018 for their work in ending the dangerous practice.
Today these four activists have the world’s attention, but spreading awareness is just part of the battle, the second part of the fight is garnering support and convincing Congress to make a change.